On the way home from a vacation in Delaware yesterday, I got through a good middle portion of Dostoevsky’s “The Idiot.” I only just thought of this correlation between something in there and something I was feeling almost a week ago. Dostoevsky had gone into a description of a certain feeling that “the Idiot” or Prince Myshkin felt before an attack of epilepsy. Before the utter darkness descended upon his mind and soul, a bright joy would flood through him, and everything would be intensified, so that he felt an overwhelming gladness. That does not do justice to what the author was getting across, but it says something. This feeling lasted about half a second, then the fit would seize him, and he would be plunged into the fit of epilepsy.
Last week I was trying to go to sleep. It had been a long day, and I hadn’t slept well in awhile. But for the life of me, I couldn’t sleep, yet I was too tired to get up and do anything. I lay there for a long time, and I felt like I didn’t have the strength to fight against a darkness that I felt was creeping over my mind. One might call it depression. Probably the result of not enough sleep. We were going to leave the next day for Delaware where, before we hit the beach, dad had a concert at a Presbyterian church in Wilmington. I felt depressed and closed in by life, almost suffocated by it. I wanted to be free of something – but I couldn’t quite grasp what it was I wanted to be free from. I didn’t know – and that was half that darkness – not knowing. So I lay there, becoming more and more depressed, and feeling more and more trapped and sleepless. The windows in the room were open, and after about an hour or two I heard music from far away (it sounded like) coming in through the window. I listened for awhile, and realized it was daddy, practicing for his concert. Some of the songs I had never heard before – I didn’t even know he had written them. But I heard him playing and it calmed me. It distracted me from darker thoughts and made me think about the music. Then after awhile he played a song he wrote called “Credo,” which has a Latin sounding theme. I listened to him sing, and actually thought about the words.
I don’t remember exactly how the verses go, but the chorus is like this:
“Hallelujah! His love is all around me
In love he sought and found me
His death my victory
Hallelujah! His Spirit breaks my fetters
His Word is Truth, His Truth has set me free!”
Well that struck a note. “His spirit breaks my fetters…” and “His truth has set me free…” Talk about God’s timing! I realized I didn’t need to be bogged down with life and the fear and hardships that come with it. I had been called to something higher than that, something more holy. I had already been set free from my bondage – what I was feeling then was an illusion. There were no fetters, I was not in a prison. I was free from this world of sin because Christ died for me.
“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)
That verse is my freedom right there. Because of his great love for me, because of his choice, I have been freed from this bondage of sin and darkness, from the judgement I deserved, and I have been given a higher calling, something more beautiful, utterly pure and holy.
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Phil. 4:8,9)
These subjects of thought point out my way for me. They show me how I should act, what I should say, where I should go.
Daddy was singing the chorus again.
“His death my victory…”
“His Word is Truth His Truth has set me free…”
“Rejoice in hope…” (Romans 12:12) I was meant to rejoice in hope… There was hope. A pervading light in the midst of the gulf of darkness. And in that light I was meant to rejoice. It was my Hope. It was and is and will be my salvation, for that Hope is Christ.
And now looking back, Dostoevsky’s description of what the Prince felt before his fit of epilepsy almost exactly describes what I was feeling. There came a great joy, a complete contentment and peace. It did not mean that trials or trouble were absent or far away, but that I felt the freedom of the Spirit. And yet, even my freedom was the sweetest bondage. I was free of the world of sin and darkness, yet I was a slave of light and righteousness.
And in the midst of these thoughts, my daddy played on… and on. I listened to him until he stopped, and I felt quiet and serene. A heaviness came about me, and a few minutes later I was plunged into a deep sleep, with those very thoughts on my mind….
“His Spirit breaks my fetters…
“His Word is Truth, His Truth has set me free…”